News Releases

May 9, 2001

Emory Eye Center hosts annual picnic for children treated for retinoblastoma

ATLANTA -The Emory Eye Center's ocular oncology section will host its annual springtime picnic for children treated at Emory for retinoblastoma (RB), a hereditary retinal tumor that affects mainly children. With new treatment, called transpupillary thermotherapy (TPTT), most of the children affected with RB have a good prognosis today, especially if detected in the early stages.

Some five years ago, that wasn't the case. Mortality was high. If TPTT is successful, enucleation (removal of the eye) is not necessary. If the disease has progressed to a certain point, then the eye will be removed to save the life. Prior to TPTT, radiation treatment-the treatment of choice-would often not only destroy the tumor, but the vision as well. With TPTT the tumor is heated in short bursts with an infrared diode laser. The heat destroys the melanoma cell's metabolism.

A highly hereditary disease, RB may affect several siblings in a family. Because of that, affected families often have their newborns checked within weeks after birth. The RB picnic is a true family affair, even involving the grandparents and supportive friends. The young patients and their families come from several Southeastern states including Tennessee, Florida, North and South Carolina.

The 2001 RB KIDS DAY, held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at WD Thompson Park, on Mason Mill Road, located between Clairmont and Houston Mill roads near Emory University, will be a family affair filled with fun, food, clowns, magicians and decorations. "Happy Tails," a troupe of dogs specially trained to be therapeutic for children will return, a favorite part of this special day. Area vendors contribute food, drink, and special gifts to these special patients.

The Emory Eye Center's ocular oncology section, which treats adults and children with any type of cancer in the eye or on surrounding structures, is the only comprehensive center of its kind in this region.

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell
jbell@emory.edu
404-778-3711

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